First, it was the blackbirds. On New Year’s Eve, thousands fell from the central Arkansan sky, leading to speculation that booming fireworks disoriented them and caused them to collide with buildings. Then on Tuesday, about 500 birds were found dead in Louisiana. Then more dead birds were reported in Sweden, and masses of dead fish have washed ashore in several countries.

A Washington Post blog has a name for this rash of mysterious, foreboding animal deaths: Aflockalypse.

Although the coincidences invite conspiracy theories, the cause is most likely human, according to the Post.

“Rather than a divine sign, the cause is likely human: fireworks scaring the birds, toxic chemical killing the fish or powerlines tangling up the birds,” writes Melissa Bell of the Post.

John Fitzpatrick, director of Cornell University’s Laboratory of Ornithology in Ithaca, N.Y., said that while loud fireworks may have disoriented the Arkansan birds, the explanation isn’t completely satisfying. Rather, he tells the Wall Street Journal, that someone may have intentionally tried to harm the birds.

As the New Year began in Arkansas, residents described a scene akin to horror movie, complete with responders in Hazmat suits.
Livescience Staff